Fashion Press Release

The Pandemic Will Change The Way We Dress, Experts Say

RMIT experts are available to comment on how the pandemic has impacted the way we dress. 

Experts from RMIT University are available to comment on how the pandemic will change the stereotypical ‘Melbourne look’, the casualisation of workwear, the demise of restrictive clothing and the office dress code, and the rise of homegrown fashion and the local high street. 

Melbourne’s penchant for black to give way to more colour and flamboyance 

Dr Kate Sala, Lecturer, Design & Technology, School of Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University (0434 926 065 or 

Topics: sustainable garment design and production, transparency in supply chain dynamics, digital fashion communication design. 

“History has shown us time and again that after large global crises, like in the case of both world wars and the recession in the early ‘80s, a period of excess and extravagance typically follows when it comes to fashion. 

“And I think we are going to see the same thing happen here, now that things have opened up again. People will really be embracing the opportunity to dress up and use clothes as a way to communicate socially with each other. 

“It will be a way to celebrate that sense of freedom and as a result that celebration is likely to translate into a lot of colour and print. 

“I think we’ll find that people are going to really throw caution to the wind when it comes to dressing and become quite experimental and have a lot of fun with what they wear. 

“I think we’ll also see a lot more looser silhouettes and even when we’re channelling evening wear, people will still be looking for that sense of comfort and ease and that leisurewear vibe. 

“For example, the trend for wearing sneakers with evening attire will continue, there will be a lot of mismatching, and anything goes. It will be very experimental and bold and a lot of fun.” 

The casualisation of workwear and the end of office dress codes 

Dr Stephen Wigley, Associate Dean, Fashion Enterprise, School of Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University (0427 341 322 or 

Topics: fashion economies, product management, fashion marketing and retail, global value chains and luxury brands 

“I think one of the biggest changes in the way we dress in a post-lockdown world will be the casualisation of workwear.

“A recent survey of 20,000 consumers across 11 markets, including Australia, by global athleisure brand Lululemon, found that 81 per cent of respondents said they perform better at work if they feel physically comfortable.

“Of course, this doesn’t mean we are going to start seeing office workers returning to the city en masse in their activewear, it will simply mean that comfort will play a far bigger role in what we choose to wear to work when we do go back. 

“So, we are likely to see less ties in many workplaces, for example, and women ditching more restrictive garments like skirt suits and high heels. 

“And I think, most significantly, the pandemic will likely be the beginning of the end of the office dress code – or at least the emergence of a new dress code.

“Just as companies who fail to take a more flexible approach to working arrangements and adopt hybrid workplaces will struggle to attract and retain staff, organisations that persist with strict office dress codes are likely to face similar challenges.” 

Shopping locally and ‘accidental sustainability’ 

Tamzin Rollason, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University (0433 552 441 or 

Topics: sustainable fashion, sustainable dressing, eco-style trends, sustainable consumption 

“I’m already seeing a shift among people who have started to see the value in shopping locally. I think the fact that we have spent more time at home and in our local neighbourhoods, due to ongoing lockdowns, means the local high street is really having a moment.  

“And I think it will continue to do so, as hybrid working arrangements become the norm and because people are seeing the benefits to their local businesses, their local economy and in terms of convenience. 

“While at the same time there has been a big shift towards online shopping, due to the closure of retail, that has been counterbalanced by some of those significant supply chain issues that we’ve been seeing. So, particularly, in the short to medium term, shopping locally will continue to be appealing. 

“I think we are going to hear a lot more talk about local manufacturing also, if the local industry can meet some of the big challenges it is facing, particularly when it comes to finding enough workers. But there is definitely a growing demand for it. 

“The pandemic has also produced a lot of what I like to call accidentally sustainable practices. I’m hearing people say, ‘I’ve been wearing the same five items of clothing for the last year and a half, and I don’t know why I’ve got all these clothes in my cupboard.’ 

“Other people have had time to sort through their wardrobes, so there has been wardrobe rediscovery and so by sheer accident, or due to these extraordinary circumstances, people have been adopting sustainable practices which are quite effortless, and really how sustainability should be.” 

For media enquiries, please contact RMIT Communications: 0439 704 077 or 

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